CHARLESTON – St. Charles East senior Kelsey Gentry said the Saints' 4x400-meter relay team had a goal of being at the O'Brien Stadium blue track all season.
Gentry, along with anchor Britney Williams, was part of an East 4x400 team that failed to make the finals in 2010. Last season, a group that included Williams and sophomore Jordan Shead once again came up short in the prelims.
Reaching their goal of running on that blue track at the 2012 IHSA State Track and Field Meet, the Saints' team of Gentry, Shead, Allison Chmelik and Williams one-upped their original aspirations and were able to make it into Saturday competition.
While they didn't break another school record – as they had at sectionals and in Friday's prelims – East's 4x400 team took fifth place in Class 3A with a time of 3:55.91.
"Yesterday when we realized we had an opportunity for the finals, we were so excited in being there. It was just incredible," Gentry said. "We're really happy to run out here on the blue track on Saturday for the first time."
After the relay sat in eighth place after the first leg, Shead, Chmelik and Williams did their best to get the Saints back in it. East made up some ground, just not enough to get past winner Belleville West, Lincoln-Way East, Evanston and East St. Louis.
Shead loved being part of the tight-knit group's top-five finish.
"We're all like really good friends and we all support each other," she said. "This weekend has been a blast. We've bonded so much."
Other medalists for East were Annie Martines, a seventh-place finisher in the 300-meter hurdles (44.77), and Torree Scull, who took ninth in the 800-meter run (2:14.80).
Shead was the only Saint with two medals around her neck after the 4x400, which was the final event of the state meet. The sophomore also took seventh in the 400-meter dash (57.51).
"I just kind of go out and run my best. I really wanted it," Shead said. "It's something I've wanted since the beginning of the season."
Batavia's Haleigh Theuerkauf was the only other area medalist in Class 3A. She didn't throw on Saturday, but her Friday mark of 40-06 1/4 was good enough for ninth place.
St. Charles North's 4x800-meter relay of Sydney Stuenkel, Megan Young, Natalia Gawlik and Jessica Scheets took 11th in 9:21.98.
In Class 2A, Aurora Christian junior Mackenzie Bollinger was second in the triple jump at 38 feet, 7 1/4 inches. The mark was a personal record for Bollinger, who figured she had the title, until Brion Portis of Class 2A champion Springfield Southeast outdid her.
"I was really happy," she said. "I thought I had it won, but the girl finished her last jump after me and she got a [39-2 1/2]."
Making the finals in both the 100- and 200-meter dash, Bollinger didn't place after suffering a pulled hamstring in the 100.
"I just came out of the box, and I was running," she said. "I probably ran five steps, and I stumbled, and I just [fell]."
The Eagles earned two medals in the relays. Aurora Christian's 4x200-meter relay of Alyssa Andersen, Alyssa Henzel, Peyton Wade and Natasha Brown was sixth at 1:43.72. The Eagles' 4x100-meter relay of Andersen, Maddie Saloga, Brown and Henzel was eighth with a time of 49.51.
Burlington Central junior Kayla Wolf took seventh in the Class 2A 800-meter run (2:15.38). She was three spots ahead of Kaneland's Sydney Strang, who was 11th at 2:20.12.
Wolf's teammate, Autumn Conn, was second in the pole vault with a vault of 12-0. She was nine spots ahead of the Eagles' Taylor Knauf (10-6).
Conn had a stress fracture in her femur earlier this season, causing her to miss five weeks. She said she was close to 100 percent on Saturday.
"Everything's just been getting stronger," she said. "It built up to today."
The only other Kaneland finalist, senior Jenn Howland, was 11th in the 3,200-meter run (11:36).